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Taliban capture 9 from helicopter in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan – A civilian transport helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing in a Taliban-controlled area of eastern Afghanistan, and the insurgents took all nine people who were on board hostage, officials said Monday.

The aircraft landed in strong winds and heavy rain on Sunday in a village in the Azra district of Logar province, southeast of Kabul and about 20 miles from the Pakistan border, said district governor Hamidullah Hamid.

Taliban fighters then captured all nine aboard the helicopter and took them from the area, Hamid told The Associated Press. He said the crew members and passengers are all civilian, but he did not know their identities or nationalities.

NATO confirmed the helicopter went down on Sunday, but the International Security Assistance Force did not have any other details. ISAF spokeswoman Erin Stattel said the coalition was assisting in the recovery of the aircraft. She could not say whether the aircraft had made a precautionary landing or whether the Taliban had forced it down.

In Ankara, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said it was asking officials in Afghanistan to check unconfirmed news reports that some or all of the nine people aboard the helicopter were Turkish citizens.

Logar deputy police chief Rais Khan Abdul Rahimzai said the helicopter is owned by a company named Khaorasan. He first identified it as an Afghan company, but later said he didn’t know where it is based. Rahimzai said he didn’t know what kind of cargo the aircraft was carrying, where it was headed, or whether it was working for NATO.

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